By Godfrey Bivbere
MARITIME operators have called on all Federal Government’s agencies responsible for securing the nation’s waterways to step up efforts to ensure the security for shipping activities in the country.
The operators noted that the rate of sea piracy in 2019 was worrisome and unless drastic measures are taken, the situation may become worse.
Speaking with Vanguard Maritime Report on the issue in Lagos, Chairman of the Port Consultative Forum, PCF, Kunle Folanrin, said that piracy attacks and armed robbery at sea increased drastically along the nation’s waters and neighbouring waters in 2019 which is not good for shipping business in the country.
Folarin said: “There is one that is hanging that is worrisome, that is the issue of piracy attack and armed robbery at sea; particularly in the Gulf of Guinea, and in the Bight of Benin which is Nigeria’s closest maritime domain and I think this issue should receive attention this year.
“I think the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, should do more in the surveillance of the coastal area and the Nigerian Navy also should step up their game to ensure that Nigeria’s territorial waters is protected and also to ensure that we have safe transport terrain, that the sea link to Nigeria harbours are safe; otherwise, the international shipping the cartel will certainly impose sub-charge on Nigerian bound cargo and that is not good for everybody including you and me.
“The cost of goods and services will increase because the shipping companies will not just pay the charges, they will pass it on to the cargo owner and the cargo owner will pass it on the consumer,” he said.
Also speaking on the issue, Aminu Umar, immediate past President of Nigeria Shipowners Association, also said, “It is actually true, the problem is that when it comes to safety, we look at two things; one is the security, the safety of the water in terms of channel, navigational challenges, we have a lot of challenges in the navigation.
“Insecurity to be honest, 2019 has been very bad in terms of security situation open to attack in Nigerian waters; kidnap and hijacking have recorded one of the highest ever.
“It is unfortunate that it happened in 2019, what happened in the last a quarter of 2019 has actually never happened in the history of the hijacking of ships in the entire shipping world.
“It is very unfortunate that it is happening in Nigeria but we look forward to see in 2020, the Nigerian law enforcement agencies to make sure that this kind of thing will never happen again,” he concluded